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What Do Food Cravings Say About You?

What Do Food Cravings Say About You?

Occasional food cravings are something we all have in common. Some food cravings are caused by nutritional deficiencies, but others originate for more complicated reasons. Luckily, regardless of the cause, most cravings can be reduced. While certain sources of food cravings can be difficult to pinpoint, some very common food cravings have pretty surprising sources and solutions.

You Might Need To Balance Your Blood Sugar

When you’re reaching for cookies or ice cream, a lack of energy may be the problem. When your blood sugar levels take a dip, sugar cravings are extremely common. Though it might feel good in the moment, snacking on sugar will actually cause your blood sugar levels to spike. When your blood sugar levels fall shortly after, you’ll find yourself craving sweets all over again. Try snacking on some healthy complex carbohydrates or protein instead. Protein and healthy carbs (like whole grains and starchy vegetables) are digested slowly, so your blood sugar levels will stabilize, rather than being a roller coaster.

You Might Need To Hydrate

If you’re craving salty things, your body may need more water. When you’re dehydrated, you usually are low in electrolytes as well. Electrolytes are minerals our body uses to absorb water, some of which are found in salt. Drink a glass of water next time you feel a salty food craving coming on, and your problem may be solved.

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You Might Need A Checkup

Chronic salty food cravings can also be an indication of certain health complications. Addison’s disease and several different adrenal conditions are all preceded by salt cravings in some patients. If you’re having chronic salty food cravings, it might be time to for a quick checkup.

You Might Need Endorphins

A craving specifically for chocolate is sometimes your brains way of saying you’re low in feel-good chemicals. Endorphins are one such chemical released by the brain. A powerful boost for your mood, endorphins are also released when you eat chocolate, but also flood the system during sleep and exercise. Try taking a quick nap, or going for a run next time you can’t shake the chocolate cravings.

You Might Be Stressed Out

Another source of craving salty foods could be your mood. If you’re feeling stressed out or more anxious than usual, your adrenal glands are working overtime. Adrenal glands manage our stress responses, releasing hormones when we’re in a fight or flight state. Being angry or too stressed can essentially tire out your adrenal glands, causing an increase in salty food cravings. If this is the case, try blowing off some steam before you reach for salty snacks.

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You Might Be A Thrill Seeker

Believe it or not, even your personality can influence your cravings. If you’re the type of person who likes excitement, craving spicy foods might be common. Several studies have shown that strong cravings for spicy foods may be a sign your body is craving sensation. Try doing a few things out of the ordinary when you can’t get enough spice.

You Might Need To Change Your Habits

A lot of cravings are caused by habits and how you usually eat. For example, overindulging in salty foods on a regular basis will cause your body to crave more salty things. Similarly, habitually consuming refined sugar and fake sweeteners will trigger increased sugar cravings in the future. Fight these sources of food cravings by eating a diet full of variety and healthy sources of sugar and complex carbs.

You Might Need More Sleep

A recent study from UC Berkeley found a fairly direct link between lack of sleep and junk food cravings. By studying the way the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, the study found that higher brain function was blunted, while functions like desire and motivation were amplified. This may lead to the participants preference for salty, fat laden junk food while sleep deprived.

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You Might Be Too Strict With Your Diet

If you’re on a diet, make sure you let yourself occasionally snack on sweet and salty foods. Measured indulgences can help stave off sudden, overpowering cravings for junk food. Especially if you’ve eliminated carbs and sweets, small portions of junk food can help avoid self-inducing a nutritional deficiency. Being overly restrictive with what you eat can end up causing more cravings than you need to deal with.

You Might Have Natural Cravings

If you’re a lady fighting food cravings, you should keep in mind your monthly cycle. Unfortunately, cramps and bloating aren’t the only friends Mother Nature brings with her to visit. If it’s that time of the month, you’re likely to experience increased food cravings. Part of these cravings may come from your body’s increased need for energy, but also may be related to a monthly lack of serotonin. Eating an extra serving or so of carbs each day of your period will help boost serotonin, plus provides extra energy your body needs.

You Will Have Extra Cravings If You’re Pregnant

Additionally, if you’re pregnant, don’t forget that seemingly extreme food cravings will be a usual occurrence. there’s no need to panic however, the cravings you’re experiencing will fluctuate with the nutritional needs of your baby. In some circumstances, you may experience cravings for non edible items like chalk or dirt. This phenomenon is known as Pica, and tends to only occur in pregnant women. If your cravings are stretching beyond your kitchen table you might be one of them. If you think this might be the case, it’s a good idea to mention your cravings to a Dr.

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Cravings come in all varieties, but many solutions exist. Getting to the root of your craving will undoubtedly help you fight it. Don’t forget to give yourself a little bit of leeway in your daily diet. By listening to your body, and treating yourself well, you can become the master of your cravings.

Featured photo credit: reynermedia via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

Burnout at work is an issue that most people who suffer from it, suffer unknowingly.

Have you ever felt that you can’t start an assignment, have an immense urge to Netflix binge, or couldn’t get yourself to wake up on time even though you have a lot on your plate? The cause for these might be burnout.

According to Deloitte’s report, “many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout.” This is to say that the responsibility is not only on the employee. According to that report, nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization, and they definitely should.[1]

Too many companies don’t invest enough in creating a positive environment. One out of five (21%) said that their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout. It is the culture, not the fancy well-being programs that would probably do the best work.

This is a significant problem for individuals and companies, and it’s also an issue on a macro level. A Stanford University research found that more than 120,000 deaths per year, and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs, are associated with the way U.S. companies manage their workforces.[2]

It is both the employee and the employer’s responsibility—and the latter can certainly take more responsibility.

In this article, I’ll guide you on how to know if you suffer from burnout and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

Who Are Prone to Burning Out?

For starters, it is a good thing to know that you’re in good company. According to a Gallup poll, 23% (of 7,500 surveyed) expressed burnout more often than not. Additionally, 44% felt it sometimes. Nearly 50% of social entrepreneurs who attended the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2018 reported having struggled with burnout and depression at some point.[3]

According to Statista (2017), 13% of adults reported having problems unwinding in the evenings and weekends. According to a Deloitte survey (consisting of 1,000 full-time U.S. employees), 77% of respondents said that they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.[4]

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Burnout is not only an issue of the spoiled first-world. Rather, it is a serious matter that must be taken care of appropriately. It affects so many people, and its impacts are just too significant to be ignored.

Some occupations are more prone to burnout, such as people who deeply care about their jobs more than others. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Passion-driven and caregiving roles such as doctors and nurses are some of the most susceptible to burnout.”

The consequences can have life or death ramifications as “suicide rates among caregivers are dramatically higher than that of the general public—40% higher for men and 130% higher for women”. It is also the case for teachers, non-profit workers, and leaders of all kinds.[5]

Deloitte’s survey also found that 91% say that they have an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration. Heck, 83% even say that it can negatively impact their relationships. Millennials are slightly more impacted by burnout (84% of Gen Y vs. 77% in other generations).

What Is Burnout Syndrome?

So, what is it, exactly? Burnout was officially included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and is an occupational phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organization, burnout includes three dimensions:[6]

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

The 5 Stages of Burnout

At this point, you must have a clue if you’re at risk of burnout. There are different methods for understanding where you are on the burnout syndrome scale, and one of the most common ones is the “five stages method.”

1. Honeymoon Phase

As you may remember If you’ve gotten married, there’s always the honeymoon phase. You’re so happy and feel almost invincible. You love your spouse and at this stage, you’re very excited about everything. It’s the same when it comes to taking on a new job or role or starting a new business.

At first, most of the time, you’re hyper-motivated. Although you might be able to notice signs of potential future burnout, in most cases, you might ignore them. You’re highly productive, super motivated, creative, and accept (and take) responsibility.

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The honeymoon phase is critical because if you plant the seeds of good mental health and coping strategies, you can stay at this phase for extended periods.

2. Onset of Stress

Let’s continue with the wedding metaphor. Now that you’re happily married for some time, you might start noticing certain issues with your spouse that you don’t like. You might have seen them before, but now they take up more space in your life.

You might be less optimistic and feel signs of stress or minor symptoms of physical or emotional fatigue at work. Your productivity reduces, and you think that your motivation is lower.

3. Chronic Stress

Let’s hope you don’t get there in your marriage, but unfortunately, some people get there. At this stage, your stress level is consistently high, and the other symptoms of stage 2 persist.

At this point, you start missing deadlines, your sleep quality is low, and you’re resentful and cynical. Your caffeine consumption might be higher, and you’re increasingly unsatisfied.

4. Burnout

This is the point where you can’t go on unless there is a significant change in your workspace environment. You have a strong desire to move to another place, and clinical intervention is sometimes required.

You feel neglected, your physical symptoms are increasing, and you get to a place where your stomach hurts daily. You might obsess over problems in your life or work and, generally speaking, you should treat yourself.

5. Habitual Burnout

This is the phase in which burnout is embedded in your life. You might experience chest pains or difficulty breathing, outbursts of anger or apathy, and physical symptoms of chronic fatigue.

The Causes of Burnout

So, now that we know how to identify our stage of burnout, we can move on to tackling its leading causes. According to the Gallup survey, the top burnout reasons are:[7]

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  1. Getting unfair treatment at work – This is not always something that you can fully control. At the same time, you should remember that even if you’re not calling the shots, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept unfair treatment. The consequences mentioned above are just not worth it in most cases.
  2. Workload – Another leading cause of stress according to dozens of interviews conducted before writing the article. According to Statista, in 2017, 39% of workers said a heavy workload was their leading cause of stress. We live in a busy work environment, and we will share some tips on how to manage that.
  3. Not knowing your role – While not something you can fully control, you can, and probably should, take action to better define it with your boss.
  4. Inadequate communication and support from your manager – Like the others above, you can’t fully control that, but as we’ll soon share, you can take action to be in better control.
  5. Time pressure – As mentioned, motivated, passionate workers are more in danger of experiencing burnout. One of the reasons is that they’re pressuring themselves to do more, sometimes at the expense of their mental health. We’ll address how to work on that as well.

How to Overcome a Burnout

After going over the stages of burnout and the leading causes of becoming burned out, it might be a good time to let you know that there is a lot you can do to fight it head-on.

However, let’s start with what you should not do. Burnout cannot be fixed by going on a vacation. It should be a long-term solution, implemented daily.

According to Clockify (2019), these are the popular ways to avoid burnout:

  1. Focus on your family life – 60% of adults said that stable family life is key to avoiding burnout. Maintaining meaningful relationships in your life is proven to reduce stress (instead of having many unmeaningful relationships).
  2. Exercising comes in second, with 58% reporting that jogging, running, or doing any exercise significantly relieves stress. Even a relatively short walk might improve your body’s resilience to stress.
  3. Seek professional advice – 55% say they would turn to a professional. There are online websites where you can speak with professionals at reduced costs.

Aside from the three most popular ways of avoiding burnout, you can also try the following:

1. Improve Time Management

Try understanding how you can use your time better and leave more time for relaxation. That’s easy to say (or write) but more challenging to implement. It would help if you started by prioritizing yourself. Understanding the connection between your values and your everyday tasks is a tremendous help. You can use proven methods to improve the relationship between your vision and goals to your daily life tasks’ lists. Check out the Horizons of Focus or V2MOM methods to get started.

2. Use the P.L.E.A.S.E. Method

The P.L.E.A.S.E. is a combination of things you should do to be at your best physically. It means Physical Illness (P.L.) prevention, Eat healthy (E), Avoid mood-altering drugs (A), Sleep well (S), and Exercise (E).

3. Prioritize

You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes across your way at work (or in other aspects of life). You’d be surprised how easy it can become once you start saying no. Some might even describe it as exhilarating.

4. Let Your Brain rest

Culturally, most of us are already wired to think that hard work is essential, and while that’s true in most cases, we sometimes forget that our brain needs to rest for it to recharge. Seven hours of sleep are essential (depending on your age). Meditation might be helpful, too.

5. Pay Attention to Positive Events

According to Therapistaid.com, we tend to focus on the bad things in our lives. However, by focusing on positive things, we can change our mindset. One way to practice this daily is by writing three good things about your life every morning or evening. It’s been scientifically proven that doing so for a few months can help rewire your brain.

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6. Take Some “You” Time

A Netflix binge is not always good for you, but it might be in some cases. The better the leisure time is, the better you’ll feel in the long term. It’s usually better to read a book or start a new hobby that requires more cognitive skills than just lying on the couch. But as long as you feel good watching a movie, that might be a good start.

7. New Technologies Might Be Helpful

There are tons of self-help apps such as Fabulous, Headspace (meditation), Noom (diet and exercise), and others. They’re good to use, but you should also be careful not to run away from your problems only to watch social media for hours. It’s not real, and no one’s life is perfect (even if their Facebook or Instagram feeds might seem so). You should also be aware not to be in an “always-on” mindset.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re at the first or the fifth stage of the burnout phases, the goal of this article is to show you that there are always ways to fight it. The first thing is self-awareness—knowing that there’s a problem. The second step is to decide what to do about it.

You can also consider using Lifehack’s community. You’re more than welcome to share your burnout story on our Facebook page.

Bonus: Rebound from Burnout in 8 Hours

Watch what you can do to rebound from burnout quickly in this episode of The Lifehack Show:

https://youtu.be/MNnyqQWK_zg

Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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